NHL Proposes Realignment Again

The NHL’s new realignment plan was rolled out tonight on Hockey Night in Canada’s Satellite Hotstove. It looks a lot like last year’s failed plan, with a few key changes.

The new alignment keeps the “four conferences” aspect of the 2012 proposal. As with last year’s, there are two conferences of eight teams and two of seven. The big difference is that the two easternmost conferences now are the ones with eight teams, while the westernmost ones have seven.

The proposed realignment is as follows:

Conference 1: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington
Conference 2: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto
Conference 3: Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg
Conference 4: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver

The differences from the last proposal are that the Blue Jackets move from Conference 3 to Conference 1, the Red Wings move from Conference 3 to Conference 2, and the Avalanche move from Conference 4 to make up the loss in Conference 3.

The Red Wings would appear to be at least short-term winners in the deal, as it would put them in a conference with three Original Six rivals as opposed to just one in Conference 3. While they’d be saddled with the Florida teams, they get to stay in the Eastern Time Zone, mostly in the Northeast.

Long term, the Red Wings could be back where they started. If the NHL is indeed looking at expansion or relocation, Quebec City has to be one of the frontrunners. The only conference they fit in would be Conference 2, which would give it nine teams. With the Northeast footprint, Detroit would be the easy team on the outs. They could slide into Conference 1 and push Columbus out, but Detroit still fits the Conference 3 footprint nicely so it would make sense that they go there.

The proposal still needs to be presented to and approved by the NHLPA, which was the stumbling block last time, so this may never be implemented. Additionally, there may be a as-of-yet-undefined “wild card” to account for playoff seeding in unbalanced conferences. The conferences also remain without names for the time being.

The league says they’d like to see realignment addressed in the next week, so we’ll see what happens.

Mursak Clears Waivers

Detroit Red Wings forward Jan Mursak cleared waivers at noon on Saturday. He will be assigned to the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

Mursak, 25, has appeared in only two games this season for the Red Wings. During the season opener against the St. Louis Blues he suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out of the lineup until Thursday’s loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In 46 career NHL games Mursak has two goals and two assists.

Mursak spent three full seasons with the Griffins prior to his promotion to the Red Wings, plus an additional six games in a conditioning stint last season. In 190 total AHL games, he has 39 goals and 48 assists for 87 total points.

Mursak was originally selected by the Red Wings in the sixth round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, 182nd overall.

Was the Red Wings’ Winter Classic Jersey Leaked Via eBay?

Is the subject of a recently-ended eBay auction for a “rare Pavel Datsyuk Detroit Red Wings Reebok throwback alternate jersey” what we can expect to see the Wings’ wearing when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2014 Winter Classic?

The auction text never once mentions the Winter Classic but it does say the product is officially-licensed and made by Reebok. The design also matches that of a t-shirt that was leaked after the originally-scheduled 2013 game should have happened.


Even ignoring the general trustworthiness (or lack thereof) of eBay, I don’t think this is what the Wings will wear on January 1, 2014.

Yes, the design matches that of the t-shirt found in January. I think it matches too well. We’ve already heard that the Maple Leafs will be wearing blue for the event. The Red Wings are expected to wear “vintage white” with red trim. I said when the t-shirts were found that I think that the Wings’ shirt was red because no one would buy a dirty-looking t-shirt. To me, this looks like it was based on the t-shirt design, while official merchandise would have been done in the opposite order.

Who knows, though, I could be wrong and this could be the real thing.

S/T to Chris Creamer of SportsLogos.Net for pointing this out.

Blue Jackets’ Rally Extends Wings’ Losing Streak to Five Games

Vinny Prospal of the Columbus Blue Jackets scored with 24.7 seconds remaining in regulation on Thursday night, giving Columbus a come-from-behind win over the Detroit Red Wings and extending Detroit’s losing streak to five games.

In the waning moments of the game, Prospal joined Derek Dorsett and James Wisniewski on a three-on-two into the Detroit zone. Dorsett sent the puck to Wisniewski at the top of the left faceoff circle while Prospal went to the front of the net. Rather than shooting, Wisniewski passed to Prospal, who shoveled a spinning backhander past Red Wings’ goalie Jimmy Howard.

The goal capped a comeback from down 2-0 less than three minutes in.

R.J. Umberger got Columbus on the board with a power play goal at 4:23 of the first period. Jack Johnson’s shot from the blue line was knocked down at the top of the crease by Cam Atkinson. Umberger gathered up the loose puck and flipped it past Howard to make it 2-1.

After a scoreless second period, Dorsett tied things up at 5:03 of the third. Off a giveaway in the corner to the right of Howard, Derrick Brassard carried the puck out into the slot and put a shot on net. Dorsett got the rebound and put it around Howard.

Damien Brunner had opened the game’s scoring just 18 seconds into the game. Brunner picked off an attempted pass behind the Columbus net and wrapped around, eventually knocking in his own rebound.

At 2:40 of the period, Brian Lashoff collected the rebound of his own blocked shot and put it back on net, with it deflecting off of Valtteri Filppula on the way and beating Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to make it 2-0.

Bobrovsky finished the night with 28 saves on 30 shots. Howard stopped 21 of 24 shots.

Umberger’s goal was the only one on the power play on the night. Columbus had three tries with the extra attacker while Detroit had four.

The Red Wings are back in action on Saturday when they host the Nashville Predators.

Blue Jackets forward Artem Anisimov had to be carried off the ice on a stretcher early in the second period after a collision with Detroit’s Kyle Quincey and Ian White. Quincey left the game with an apparent leg injury on the same play… Jan Mursak played his first game since the season opener, returning from a shoulder injury.

Pregame: Blue Jackets @ Red Wings – 2/21

The Red Wings look to snap their four-game losing streak tonight as they host a Columbus Blue Jackets team that has lost three straight.

Detroit will have goalie Jimmy Howard back in net to start. He left Tuesday’s game in Nashville with blurred vision, but tests at the DMC yesterday cleared him for play.

The Wings will also have forward Jan Mursak back in the lineup. Mursak, who hasn’t played since suffering a shoulder injury during the season opener in St. Louis, will swap in for Patrick Eaves Additionally, Kent Huskins will swap back in for Jakub Kindl.

Random stat of the day: Detroit is 14-13-8 all-time on February 21. They’re currently riding a two-game losing streak on the date.

Game time is 7:30 with TV by FSD.

Red Wings Announce Updates on Injuries to Samuelsson, Howard

The Detroit Red Wings announced updates to the injury status of both Mikael Samuelsson and Jimmy Howard on Wednesday. Both were injured during Tuesday’s morning skate in Nashville, though Howard was briefly in the game.

Samuelsson is expected to miss two to three weeks with a non-displaced fracture of a finger on his left hand. He suffered the injury when he blocked an Ian White shot and initially thought he’d be able to shake it off. Samuelsson ended up being scratched in favor of Patrick Eaves when he was unable to play.

Samuelsson has spent all but three games this season injured. After the second game of the year he pulled his groin and was out until Sunday’s matchup with the Minnesota Wild.

Howard left Tuesday’s game midway through the first period with blurred vision. Head coach Mike Babcock was unaware of any injury at the time but said he had been “knocked around” during practice. He is expected to be available to play on Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, though he may not start.

On Howard’s Injury

As if simply losing goalie Jimmy Howard to what was then described as an “upper-body injury” isn’t angst-causing enough, after tonight’s overtime loss to the Predators we get reports like the following from the Red Wings’ beat writers:

There’s something just wrong with that, and it’s something wrong with hockey culture.
I know no one wants to say it, but what injury could one have that would be caused by “getting banged around in practice” that could cause blurry vision? A concussion. A brain injury that you cannot just play through.

If it’s true that Mike Babcock really didn’t know about it until Howard told him in the middle of the game (the fact that Jonas Gustavsson wasn’t prepared to take over until after Howard went to the dressing room would seem to back that up), shame on Howard himself.

I know a competitor like Howard would want to try to shake it off, but this is part of why the NHL is having trouble getting “head shots” out of the game. The players themselves don’t realize how serious of an injury it is. Howard has to be smart enough to say that he’s hurt and can’t go.

Hopefully it turns out that he’s okay this time. Whether he is or isn’t, he took a risk he shouldn’t have.

Patrick Eaves just missed a year with post-concussion symptoms. We’re not too far removed from Andreas Lilja doing the same. This team knows what a head injury can mean. They have to keep that in mind when things like this come up.

Tootoo Scores in Nashville Return but Wings Fall to Predators in OT

Detroit forward Jordin Tootoo scored his first goal with his new team in his first visit to his original team on Tuesday night but it wasn’t enough to get the Red Wings a win, as they dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Nashville Predators.

Tootoo had played for eight seasons with the Predators before joining the Red Wings as a free agent last summer.

With 8:27 left in the third period and the Red Wings down by one and skating on a delayed penalty, Henrik Zetterberg gained the Nashville zone and gave the puck to Tootoo in the right faceoff circle. Tootoo attempted a crossing pass back to Zetterberg, with the puck deflecting off defenseman Kevin Klein‘s skate and bouncing in behind Predators netminder Pekka Rinne to tie the game, 2-2.

Roman Josi put Nashville back out front with 7:06 left in the period, throwing a shot on net from the top of the left circle. It deflected off Joakim Andersson in front of Detroit goalie Jonas Gustavsson and bounced past him

Pavel Datsyuk tied things back up just 36 seconds later on an end-to-end effort. Datsyuk gained the Predators zone and skated through three defenders, then around another to put a shot through Rinne to make it 3-3.

Shea Weber gave Nashville the win 44 seconds into overtime. The Predators gained the Detroit zone three-on-three but Niklas Kronwall‘s hit on Sergei Kostitsyn collected Zetterberg as well, leaving Colin Wilson open for a shot from the slot that bounced off the back boards to an open Shea Weber to put in from the side of the net past a diving Gustavsson.

Gustavsson finished the night with 16 saves on 18 shots after Jimmy Howard left the game midway through the first with what the team called an upper-body injury.

Rinne stopped 26 of 29 shots in earning the win.

The Predators had opened the scoring with a power play goal at 5:01 of the first period. Wilson skated the puck to the bottom of the right faceoff circle and sent a pass through the top of the crease to Craig Smith on far side. Smith threw it into the open side of the net for a power play goal.

Scott Hannan‘s shot from the point was deflected in front by Gabriel Bourque and past Howard to make it 2-0 with 9:19 left in the period.

Howard would leave the game 41 seconds later, having stopped five of seven shots.

The Red Wings got on the board while shorthanded with 4:59 left in the first. Datsyuk stole the puck from Jonathon Blom behind the net and sent a pass to Daniel Cleary all alone in the slot. Cleary snapped a shot past Rinne to pull the Wings within a goal.

Detroit allowed one goal and scored one goal on six Nashville power play tries. They were scoreless on their own two power plays but Tootoo’s goal did come on a delayed call.

The Red Wings are next in action on Thursday when they return home to host the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Mikael Samuelsson did not play after injuring his hand during the morning skate. Patrick Eaves took his spot in the lineup… In addition to Howard, both Niklas Kronwall and Cory Emmerton missed time in the game with injuries. Both were able to return… Though he was cleared to play, Jan Mursak was not in the lineup.

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